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Community calls on Providence to stop healthcare cuts

seiu1199nw-logoThe following is from SEIU HealthCare 1199NW:

OLYMPIA (Feb. 25, 2013) — In a packed meeting room at St. John’s Episcopal Church on Saturday morning, a diverse group of community leaders resolved to take action to stop Providence’s cuts to employee healthcare. Speaking to an audience of more than 50 Providence employees, local business owners, community activists, and other community members, a panel made up of City Council members, County Commissioners, Pastors, and other elected officials decried how Providence’s cuts will hurt the whole South Sound community.

“The major healthcare provider in Thurston County is going in the wrong direction for our community,” said Thurston County Commissioner Karen Valenzuela. “This profitable employer is increasing costs on workers who are least able to afford it. It’s not a good thing for our community to have workers choosing between their healthcare and other basic needs like groceries.”

Following Providence’s cuts to employee healthcare that took place on Jan. 1, it’s not just employees and their families that are hurting. The 47% increase in out-of-pocket healthcare costs at our region’s second-largest employer means fewer purchases at downtown shops and fewer nights dining out at local restaurants.

“It’s troubling that so many people in our community will have fewer resources to spend at local businesses because one of the largest employers in town is diminishing benefits. We struggle to maintain the vibrancy of our small businesses and these increased costs force workers out of supporting and participating in their community,” said Brendan Williams, Deputy Insurance Commissioner.

Dozens of people testified to the impact these cuts have in our community, ranging from healthcare workers who can’t afford to go to the doctor anymore to taxpayers concerned about Providence’s role as a “charitable” non-profit exempt from taxes.

The healthcare workers, members of SEIU Healthcare 1199NW, are still in bargaining with Providence, who imposed the healthcare cuts despite being at the table.

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